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Extra Concern With Pirates’ Offensive Struggles Now Looms

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Pittsburgh Pirates- Andrew McCutchen- Bryan Reynolds

PITTSBURGH — To say the Pittsburgh Pirates’ offense is struggling right now would be the understatement of the year.

They haven’t scored in 24 consecutive innings. They’ve been shutout twice in a row and three times in their last four games. They’ve only scored 17 runs in their last eight games and oh yeah by the way, they’ve lost all eight of those contests.

The struggles at the plate were again on full display on Tuesday night again when they were again blanked in an 4-0 loss.

“We’re not driving the ball in the gap,” manager Derek Shelton said. “We’re getting base runners on. What did we have, one extra-base hit? I don’t know if we had one last night (Henry Davis doubled). We’ve got to get back to impacting the ball and driving the gap.”

Just last week, the Pirates were in first place in the National League Central. Now, they have fallen to fourth place in the division after Tuesday’s loss to Chicago.

The team and the offense in particular look completely different than they did as recently as their last home stand. In that most recent home stand, the Pirates went 6-3.

And just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse, the Pirates are dealing with some injuries to two of their best bats.

Bryan Reynolds and Andrew McCutchen were both held out of Tuesday’s game with injury concerns. For Reynolds, lower back stiffness. For McCutchen, he’s dealing with a bit of a right elbow injury, Shelton revealed after the game.

At this point, it’s unclear how many games each player will miss, or if either land on the injured list. Reynolds has been dealing with his injury for about a week. In McCutchen’s case, his has been a bit more long-term.

“It’s something I’ve been up and down with throughout the season,” McCutchen said. “It’s precautionary. Just want to make sure that I can grind through it. I’ve been grinding. Trying to get through some of these games as much as I can. If I’m 70%, just trying to bring my 70% to the game. Also want to be smart about some of the decisions. We’ll be day-to-day about it. Day-to-day and see where we are.”

The Pirates can ill-afford to lose either player for an extended period of time, but that’s especially true when the offense and the team as a whole have been stuck in a rut as bad as they have been.

McCutchen didn’t seem too concerned about his injury after the game, but you never know how long these kinds of things might linger or progress. Reynolds’ status is more in question at this point.

Even when he’s not on the field, McCutchen was brought in this offseason to help a relatively young team navigate these kinds of stretches. That’s what he will continue to do, whether he is in the lineup or not.

“We’re obviously in a bit of a funk right now. Hate to say it, but we were here once before, McCutchen said. “We just have to let the game come to us, breathe a little bit and let the game work itself out. Don’t feel like you have to try and do too much or do more. Just have to stay within yourself, trust the guy behind you and chip away. That’s all we gotta do.”

While his leadership is extremely valuable, his production at the plate is invaluable, especially at a time like this.

The Pirates desperately need both he and Reynolds back in the lineup as quickly as possible as they look to get back on the winning track.

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